The Power of Stories

I’ve always had an affinity for stories. I love to listen to people talk about things that matter- things that they’re passionate about, and what are people more passionate about than themselves, their own experience? I’m not chastising people for that. I think it’s natural, and I love it. Maybe I’m just nosy, but I love hearing people talk about their stories. It gives you a glimpse into a chapter, or multiple chapters, of their life. It tells you about who they are, or how they’ve come to be the person that you know. I don’t think you really know a person until you’ve heard them tell their story.

The thing I may love most about stories is that they have life. When you look at the big picture, the whole book let’s say, of someone’s life, it’s always changing from chapter to chapter. No one stays the same. Good stories are powerful. They can inspire their audience, bring them to tears, and the best can evoke emotions that they didn’t even know they had.

You can read more about my story here. Many of you know that it is filled with depression. Anxiety. Doctors. Illness. More medications than I can count. Plans falling apart.

Many people must wonder what inspires me to tell my story, especially in the midst of the struggle. Why not wait until the happy ending?

I’m not ashamed to tell my story. Yes, it is dark. Yes, my story has cracked pages and is torn at the edges. But it’s real, and real stories show that change can happen in impossible situations. Sure, I’m not fully changed, but this is the process, and I think the struggle is the most important part.

This is life.

I’ve been to the bottom. I’ve had life knock me down on my knees and tell me I can’t get up. I’ve given up more times than I can count just to have someone or something remind me that there is some reason to keep going, and I don’t always know what it is, but it’s there.

I have been there. I’m still there. Some days the darkness wins. Some days the lies my mind has been feeding me for months become my truth. And if you’re there too, I am so sorry. Because I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to feel worthless and tired. I’m sorry you are hurting and have to live with that burden on your shoulders, unable to give it up no matter how many people try to help. For, those of you that are past that point, I’m sorry you feel nothing. I’ve been there too. I’m sorry that you are numb because that is no way to experience life. No one should be so numb to everything around them that they cry out just to have the pain back because at least that’s feeling something. No one should have to watch their life go by from a bedroom window because they’ve had great opportunities stolen by mental illness. No. One.

You don’t deserve this. You didn’t bring this upon yourself.

And this, this is why I’m telling my dark, scar ridden story. Because this is just one chapter of my life. It goes on. Yes, it is marred by dysfunction and pain, but that doesn’t define me.

I’ve always had an affinity for stories. They’re powerful. They can inspire. They can evoke emotion.

They are powerful.

Every. Single. One.

Your story matters.

Our stories matter because we are all fighting some silent battle that needs to be heard. We were not made to live silent lives. We were meant to live in community, to support one another.

I know what it’s like to lie awake at night asking, begging, calling out for God to just take it all away. I know what it’s like to feel like he’s not there. But perhaps, we were meant to be that for each other, to take bold action against others’ suffering. God is not invisible when he works through us. We were made to love one another boldly in this broken world.

There are days when I want to give up: stay in bed for the rest of my life or, worse yet, end it all. On days like this I search and cling to the one thing that keeps me going; the reason I’m writing my story.

No matter how dark it may be there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It is interminable because there are countless people out there sharing stories just like mine. Our stories, our struggles matter because they give off the one message that keeps us going every day.

By fighting and sharing our battles we can be that light for other people. Your story can give other people the courage they need to make it through the tunnel and come out the other side. You can be the light at the end. You can give them that message.

When the nights seem like they’re never going to end and you want to give up before the sun rises, something- that light- reminds you that tomorrow, no matter how endless the darkness may seem, has potential for great things: to be better.

My story is dark, tear-stained, and torn. My story could have ended, but it didn’t. Your story may not be the same as mine, but they all deserve to start the next chapter: A new beginning. A new beginning filled with the message that all of our stories share.

We are all walking, breathing stories filled with one thing.

And that is the reason I keep going: keep walking, keep breathing.

That is why I tell my story:

Hope.

-Madelyn

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